Murray out as seeds lead the way

For the first time since 1990 the top four seeds were today contesting the semi-finals in the Artois Championships, but Andy Murray’s injury was the talk of Queen’s Club yesterday.

Eighteen years ago the stellar line-up featured Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and John McEnroe. In 2008 it was almost as good with Rafael Nadal taking on Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian facing Novak Djokovic.

The one disappointment for the home crowd was that Murray was denied the chance to break the monopoly of the top four seeds, the British number one deciding to withdraw from his quarter-final with Roddick yesterday with an injury to his right thumb.

The 21-year-old suffered the injury during his third-round victory over Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis on Thursday and, with Wimbledon around the corner, chose not to risk making matters worse.

“I could hit the ball decent but I couldn’t hit a backhand volley and slicing was very sore,” explained Murray, who missed Wimbledon last year with a wrist injury.

“I had a scan and I haven’t pulled anything, just sprained it a bit. It’s obviously not terrible but it’s just too sore to try and play a match.

“It (the scan) was just a check to see if there’s anything broken, anything too drastic that you’re going to make a big problem by playing on it, but there’s nothing like that.

“That’s the one positive thing that I can take away from it, that it’s going to clear up hopefully in a few days.

“The reason I was considering playing is because I was in a tournament. If it was a practice week, I would have taken three, four days off. I just have to take it day to day, see how the swelling and bruising goes down. Hopefully in three or four days’ time, I’ll be able to hit some balls again.

“I wasn’t going to damage it any further by playing, I was just going to prolong the time that it was going to be painful for. If I played today I still think I would have been okay to play Wimbledon.

“There’s no point going on the court feeling 50%, not being able to hit a few of the shots.”

French Open champion Nadal will take confidence from his quarter-final victory over Ivo Karlovic as he faces another big server in four-time champion Roddick.

Karlovic fired 35 aces past Nadal only for the Spaniard to edge a tight contest of three tie-breaks, while Roddick has only played a total of four sets all week.

The former US Open champion beat Robby Ginepri in three sets in the second round, won the first set against Mardy Fish in the third round before Fish retired injured, and received a walkover in the last eight thanks to Murray’s withdrawal.

In the second semi-final Australian Open champion Djokovic will be favourite to beat Nalbandian after cruising past former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-2 6-2. Nalbandian saw off Frenchman Richard Gasquet in three sets.

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